Tuesday, October 25 , 2016, 7:25 am | Fair 50º


Marymount Gala, Auction Step Back in Time to Celebrate 75 Years of Excellence

Walking into Marymount of Santa Barbara’s annual auction event this year was like taking a step back in time.

The first part of Marymount’s May 3 event, “The Best of the American Riviera,” was an outdoor party that took place on a lovely, balmy evening at Riviera Park, the ideal setting for the elegant Art Deco-inspired party that was not only the school’s annual auction, but a celebration of Marymount’s founding 75 years ago.

Part two of the evening was an after-party that took place at the historic El Encanto Hotel, where attendees danced and socialized into the wee hours.

Upon walking into the garden of Riviera Park, one could not help but be struck by the elegance of the venue. Walking in through billowing curtains and an entrance with a stunning view across the Riviera to downtown Santa Barbara and the Pacific, tables dressed by Mission Linen were beautifully decorated and arranged around a pond at the center of a courtyard and framed by archways.

About 220 partygoers decked out in black and white, long strands of pearls, white dinner jackets and seersucker gathered to celebrate Marymount’s 75th anniversary and the positive impact the school has made on so many lives. During the hour before dinner, graduates in bellhop uniforms helped guests find their tables while a beautifully perched grand piano played melodies to delight all in attendance.

LBPS Events and Lani Ballonoff, a Marymount graduate, brought the evening’s program to the big screen with an LED video wall that was perfectly nestled in an archway. The guests were delighted with dinner from Pure Joy Catering, wines from Fess Parker Winery & Vineyard, Tudor Wines, and sparkling wine from Riverbench Vineyard, and a cupcake dessert from Crushcakes.

The program included a show that harkened back to Hollywood’s most glamorous epoch. Deborah Bettencourt, auction chair and wearing a floor length gold dress, took the stage alongside Andrew Wooden, head of school, in his characteristic bowtie and head to toe seersucker. Several high school-aged alumni, also dressed to the nines, displayed the extraordinary public speaking ability they honed as students at Marymount to present live auction items.

Whether it was the charm and poise of the presenters, or a desire to both celebrate and support Marymount and Marymount’s beloved teachers, bidding in the live auction was fierce, but fun, and helped the school raise more than $360,000. The same is true for the paddle raise to renovate the lower school campus, and a silent auction that had attendees running to check on bids for creative class projects by Marymount students.

The event included two videos. The first, made by alumni parent Ben Maheri of Technology Support On-Site, showed Marymount’s evolution from its early days as an all-girls Catholic high school, to the school it is today: a coeducational, independent, junior kindergarten through eighth grade school offering a unique, 21st-century learning experience that blends mastery of core subjects with acquisition of the essential skills students need to navigate and be successful in a rapidly evolving world. The second film showed school classrooms and inspired the crowd with the closing words, “It is a natural impulse to nurture our young — let that impulse extend to the places where our young people learn.”

Andrea McFarling, director of dDevelopment at Marymount, Deborah Bettencourt, chair, and their tireless committee’s “Best of the American Riviera” event was a birthday party to remember, an event worthy of Marymount’s 75-year track record of academic excellence and making a difference in Santa Barbara and in students’ lives.

— Molly Seguel is the director of admission for Marymount of Santa Barbara.

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